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Direct Payment Support

COVID-19 important information: Do you buy your own care and support with a direct payment or your own money? 

If you are worried about whether you will still be able to have your arranged service, or you are experiencing disruption to your service please follow this advice:

  • Step 1 - Have a conversation with your service provider to agree a plan for if you, or they, are sick.
  • Step 2 – If your service closes or does not turn up and you have not already talked to them about a back-up plan, contact your provider. If you are not able to contact them, please contact the Direct Payments Support Service at Citizens Advice Waltham Forest on 0203 233 0279.
  • Step 3 – If you are still unable to work out an alternative and you need a different option urgently please contact the Council at 020 8496 3000.

Where possible you should work with your provider to work out what to do but the Direct Payment Support Service are here to support you if you need further help.

We also recognise that those who directly employ a personal assistant (PA) may need access to personal protective equipment (PPE) if you or they don’t already have this. The Council is working on this and will issue further guidance shortly.

Information for Personal Assistants for Direct Payments service users: COVID-19: 

Personal Protective Equipment and travel/ parking in the borough 

Waltham Forest Council will be supporting PAs of Direct Payments service users to obtain Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they need to carry out their supporting role, in addition to making arrangements for parking in the borough to help them carry out their work.

You can find out more about PPE and parking [Word 13 kb].

Direct payments – questions you might have about direct payments and COVID-19

Information regarding Direct Payment employers and Personal Assistants:

The government has published new adult social care guidance to protect the most vulnerable against COVID-19. You can read the news story on GOV.UK.

New COVID-19: guidance on residential care, supported living and home care is also available. You can read the guidance on GOV.UK. 

Frequently asked questions

Q. Will my direct payment funding still be paid at into my bank account on the normal standard pay dates?

A. Yes – Waltham Forest Council will ensure that your payments will continue to be paid on your regular payment dates.

Q. If my personal assistant has to self- isolate as they or someone in their household have shown signs of a consistent cough or fever, what do they do?

A. Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. They should therefore notify you of their intention to self-isolate in accordance with your sickness and absence procedures.

Q. What are my PA’s rights if they have to self-isolate?

A. They have the right to remain away from work for a period of 14 days from the symptoms becoming known. You can find Government guidance on staying at home due to a possible COVID-19 infection on GOV.UK.

As the employee is considered to be unfit for work, if they earn above the Lower Employment Limit (LEL) then statutory sick pay would apply from day one. You can find rates for Statutory Sick Pay on GOV.UK.

Q. What do I tell my PA (s) to do during this time?

A. Assuming your PA employees are themselves fit and willing to attend work, they should carry on fulfilling their duties. It is essential that you and they take very seriously any new rules on health and safety procedures you implement based on government guidance. It is not just for their own protection but also to prevent the spread of infection to other people in the household, fellow colleagues and the public at large when leaving your home

Q. Due to coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), as the employer I am self-isolating; or my personal assistant is unable to come to work as they are at risk because of an underlying health condition for example they are pregnant or a close family member living in the same household as myself has coronavirus, I therefore need to self-isolate.

  • Will my personal assistant still be paid?
  • How much will my personal assistant be paid?
  • Will my personal assistant be paid their full wages?
  • What if my personal assistant is not eligible to receive statutory sick pay because they do not earn enough?

A. If under government guidance your PA is required to self-isolate you can find out how long this should be on the NHS website. 

If as a Direct Payment employer you feel it is safer for your Personal Assistants to self-isolate at home for your safety, even though they have not displayed symptoms, you will need to pay them if they are on contracted hours.  

If they do not qualify please signpost them to GOV.UK for possible financial support i.e. Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance - find out more about Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses.

The statutory sick pay (SSP) (general) (coronavirus amendment) regulations 2020 came into force Friday 13th March. SSP will now be payable to those self-isolating merely under Government guidance there no need for formal written notice to be given by medical officer. 

Q. If because of coronavirus, my personal assistant does not want to come to work and neither my PA or myself (as the employer) are showing any symptoms. Do I still have to pay my personal assistant?

A. If the PA chooses not to work and there is no identified high risk then no pay (other than authorised annual leave) will be given as this is an unauthorised absence.

Q. What if my Personal Assistant’s children need to stay at home and PA cannot support me?

A. The government has published a list of key workers including health and social care workers - you can find the list on GOV.UK.

PAs are defined as care workers, therefore key workers. This means your PA's children can continue to attend school. 

The PA will need to contact their relevant school for further information.

Q. If my PA is self-employed and they are unwell or showing symptoms of coronavirus. Can they claim statutory sick pay?

A. You do not have to pay sick pay for self-employed personal assistants. Self-employed personal assistants should be following government advice in relation to claiming benefits.

The Government are changing financial measures daily but have committed to doing whatever is needed to help the nation come through this crisis. It has been announced that the Government are making provisions for loans to small businesses who have suffered interruption to their businesses.

The Government have announced that those affected by Coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending the job centre. The 7 waiting days for ESA for new claimants will not apply so it will be payable from day one.

Self-employed claimants for Universal Credit will not have a ‘Minimum Income Floor’ applied for a period of time while affected.

Q. If I or my PA becomes sick with symptoms relating to coronavirus, can I send them home?

Yes, if your Personal Assistant lets you know they have symptoms described by the government guidelines and earn above the Lower Employment Limit (LEL) then statutory sick pay would apply from day one.  You can find rates for Statutory Sick Pay on GOV.UK.

Q. If I am unable to access my local community as I need to isolate myself, can I use my direct payment funding in a more flexible way to prioritise essential tasks in my home like more personal care tasks, personal hygiene, hygienic cleaning, clothes washing, food preparation?

A. Yes, you are able to use your direct payments for these purposes if this maintains you in your home. 

About us

Direct Payments Support is a service run by Citizens Advice Waltham Forest that is commissioned by the Local Authority to provide people with confidential, impartial, free, high quality information and advice and support to people who receive a Direct Payment for their care and support.

London Borough of Waltham Forest has a legal duty under the Care Act to ensure service users can access the information and advice they need to make good decisions about care and support.

The Direct Payment Support service meets this duty and provides additional support in relation to the management of personal budgets including;

  • Providing up to date information, advice and support to enable services users to choose and manage their Personal Budgets including information on what direct payments are and how they work.
  • Supporting service users to experience more choice and control over their daily lives and enhance their ability to live independently through their personal budget
  • Providing specialist knowledge and experience of self-directed support and personal budgets for people with Learning Difficulties, Mental Health, young and adult carers and people from BAME groups seeking to receive Direct Payments.
  • Providing direct payment recipients of care agencies and other independent providers who have agreed to supply and manage the persona assistance needed by individuals
  • Supporting service users in the recruitment and employment of PA’s for service users who do not wish to manage their own staff.
  • Supporting service users to gain confidence and knowledge they need to identify and contract with independent providers of their choice.

Contact the Direct Payment Support Service:

T: 020 3233 0279

E: directpayments@citizensadvicewalthamforest.org.uk